On the origin and spread of languages: Propositioning Twenty-first century axioms on the evolution and spread of languages with concomitant views on language dynamics

Affordable Access

Download Read

On the origin and spread of languages: Propositioning Twenty-first century axioms on the evolution and spread of languages with concomitant views on language dynamics

Published Article
ELK Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences
ELK Education Consultants
Publication Date
Aug 11, 2019
Accepted Date
Aug 11, 2019


This paper purports to be a starting point to revisit existing approaches dealing with the origin and spread of languages in the light of the changed circumstances of the Twenty-first century without in any way undermining their applicability across space and time. The origin of spoken languages is intricately and inseparably interwoven and intertwined with the origin of human species as well, and in this paper, we propose a 'Wholly-independent Multi-Regional hypothesis of the origin of Homo sapiens' in response to both the highly-controversial and arguably antiquated 'Out-of-Africa theory' which we have stridently and vehemently opposed, along with all its protuberances and the contending Multi-Regional Hypothesis as well. The key tenets of this paper are therefore articulated based on this fundamental premise which is likely to upend existing presumptions and paradigms to a significant degree. Having said that, we must hasten to add that the evolutionary biology of language encompassing physical anthropology or genetics and other related areas of study, are wholly outside the purview of this paper. Structural linguistics and semantics are also outside the scope of this paper. In this paper, we examine the origins of spoken and written languages in prehistoric , proto-historic, historic, pre-globalized and post-globalized contexts and propose an 'Epochal Polygenesis' approach. As a part of this paper, we also provide a broad overview of early and current theories of the origin and spread of languages so that readers can compare our approaches with already existing ones and analyse the similarities and differences between the two. We propose and define several new concepts under the categories of contact-based scenarios and non-contact based scenarios such as the autochthonous origin of languages, the spread of properties of languages from key nodes, the 'Theory of linguistic osmosis' and the need to take historical and political factors into account while analysing the spread of languages. In this paper, we also propose among others, the 'Theory of win-win paradigms' and the 'Net benefits approach'. We also emphasize the need to carry out a diachronic and synchronic assessment of the dynamics of languages spread and propose that this be made a continuous process so that the lessons learnt can be used to tweak and hone theories and models to perfection. This paper is likely to significantly up the ante in favour of a dynamics-driven approach by undermining the relative torpor now observed in this arguably vital sub-discipline and contribute greatly to the rapidly emerging field of language dynamics. We also hope that synchronic linguistics will finally get its due place under the sun in the post-globalised world, and will become a major driving force in linguistics in the Twenty-First Century.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times
Downloaded <100 times